In one of my all-time favorite Bible stories, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10) He elaborates: “Everyone who drinks of this water [from the well] will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” Then the woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:13-15)
This living water Jesus gives is a hope and a vision, a kingdom to live in that sustains us always–even when everything is parched and dry all around, with no physical water or other necessities in sight. It’s a Way of Living that will guide us throughout our lives, if we pay attention and follow its guidance.
After this conversation with Jesus, the woman returns to her city, and “many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony,” (John 4:39) When we ask to receive Jesus’ living water, that’s when we start to follow him and begin to be able to count ourselves among his disciples.
In the story of the Transfiguration, as Peter, James, and John looked on, the voice of God proclaimed about Jesus: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” (Matthew 17: 1-8)
Peter, a dedicated follower of Jesus, had listened to Jesus so well that he was able to walk on water as Jesus did when Jesus said to him, “Come.”
Peter, with his eyes on Jesus, was walking on the water just fine until he noticed the strong wind blowing all around them and he became afraid. And the moment he took his focus off Jesus, he began to sink.
But back to the Samaritan woman…
As she listened to Jesus and told others about him, she soon became a follower too–one of the first besides the original twelve.
When Jesus’ disciples returned from buying food in the city, “they were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘Why are you speaking with her?’” (John 4: 27)
Jesus had told the woman, “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24) Then he told her that he was God’s Messiah. Then and there she begins to follow Jesus, in spirit and in truth.
And on her own, she went back to her town and began to “fish” for more people to bring to the living water.
When we are walking with Jesus in spirit and truth, and finding others to join his Kingdom Way; when we walk toward goals that sometimes seem impossible, like ending war or dismantling racism, increasing justice and equity, let’s keep in mind the woman at the well and also the disciple Peter. They received Jesus’ living water and were able to walk on water so long as they fixed their attention on him. My prayer is that we too will receive this living water, concentrate on Jesus, and as Peter did (but without losing focus), walk on water with the Lord.